tubes of paint, brushes and mediums

Something kind of embarrassing happened to me yesterday.

I’m shacking up at my sister’s for the rest of the quarantine and we keep talking about doing art together. But I’ve been here for days and all we’ve done is talk. Then, when I looked at the dining room table, which I’ve been using as a workspace for writing, it hit me that we didn’t set up a workspace for painting.

That’s why we haven’t been doing it. And all this time I’d been wondering where our impetus went.

I’m no noob, I should have avoided this pitfall. But I didn’t.

You’ve gotta have a workspace set up to work in.

Or you won’t work.

Here’s what happens if you don’t set up your workspace

You’ll think about working. And talk about working. And talk about thinking about talking about working. You’ll make excuses not to start painting. You need to decompress from work. There’s something amusing on social media. And Netflix.

And now it’s time to go to bed.

If your setup isn’t there, if your backdrop isn’t hung (or draped across the dining room table like ours), your easel’s not set up, your paints and brushes and tools aren’t out, your solvent containers aren’t there, your substrate isn’t in its place … Guess what?

You’re not going to work.

Think about creating your workspace as your first project.

Take advantage of the fact that you’re self-quarantining. This is one of our lockdown activities.

Set up your workspace

I wrapped the table in plastic sheeting. Draped the old bed sheet which will later become a painting or at least a kick-ass room divider for some room I need divided someday. The paint, gesso and brushes are out. We have a small array of toned 8”x10” canvases and 9”x12” canvas sheets, plus some watercolor paper.

Now we’re set up to work. We have no excuse not to paint today. And every other day.

The first thing we did last night was prime over some old watercolor paintings on paper so we’d have something to work on. And we agreed to work from 7-8 pm. Every day when we’re finished I’ll take a new photo of our table top.

photo of workspace after Day 1 of quarantine painting lessons photo of Katie's workspace after Day 1 of quarantine painting lessons

Your workspace should be one of the most inviting places in your home

You must want to be there. Even if it’s just a corner in a room where everyone else is watching TV.

Even the act of setting it up and maintaining it can put you in a mood to paint.

Are you messy? Canvases or other fabric you hang as backdrop to protect walls can evolve into paintings the more you work. So consider your backdrops, or drop cloths, as candidates for future paintings.

Don’t forget to have rags and containers for your solvents, too. You want every single piece of the puzzle in place so that all you have to do is enter your workspace and begin working.

Not realizing that you need to rinse your containers or scrape your palette. This will distract you for a few minutes too long. Everything should be ready.

I like to see or hear about other peoples’ workspaces. How do you like to work? What items need to be there for you to get started? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments.

Chiara Scuro

Chiara is an acrylic painter, content writer and painting consultant. She's out to chuck a Molotov cocktail at the elitist notion that it takes some innate talent to learn how to paint. Check out her blog, The Painted Pants Lady, and learn how to paint smarter.

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